Fra Lippo Lippi

In Silence

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Like many post-punk groups in the early '80s, Fra Lippo Lippi attempted to duplicate the funereal rock of Joy Division on their debut album, In Silence. The result was arguably the only unlistenable LP in Fra Lippo Lippi's career. Joy Division weren't just a dark band; they were a gloomy combo with rhythm and profound lyrics, qualities that many of the group's imitators couldn't capture. The emotional impact of In Silence is muted by incomprehensible vocals and dismal, meandering music. The first track, "Out of the Ruins," aptly summarizes the rest of the LP -- horror film basslines, evil guitar riffs, and bleak, muffled vocals. The album is relentlessly downcast; however, it's more boring than depressing. In Silence seems longer than its running length because it doesn't move. The ghostly keyboards and sinister bass of "A Moment Like This" aim for the density of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures album; however, there's no feeling in the song's somber rhythms. Fra Lippo Lippi were still trying to find themselves on In Silence; the band sounds lost, unable to find a hook that wasn't borrowed from the Cure or Joy Division. Fra Lippo Lippi would improve dramatically with their second LP, Small Mercies, but the group exposes their skeletal origins on In Silence, and it's dead on arrival.

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